Common Foot Problems For Women & Men

by Mark Paigen 7 min read

Common foot problems

Foot problems can run the spectrum from nuisance to seriously painful. While some are more common in women, they can affect men's feet as well. Understanding why these types of problems occur is the best way to prevent them or reduce their impact on your daily activities.

THE BASICS ---

  • Common foot problems include bunions, corns and calluses, hammer toes, morton's neuroma, conditions resulting from wearing high heels, runner's knee, and stress fractures.
  • While some of these conditions are more serious and painful than others, they can be addressed by avoiding certain types of shoes and wearing arch support insoles.
  • If you're suffering from any of these common foot conditions, we recommend Tread Labs Pace Insoles. They offer the firm support that doctors recommend and are available in four arch heights for a semi-custom fit.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

What Causes Bunions?

If you have bunions, you can blame improper biomechanics and genetics. One of the most common foot issues, a bunion is a bony protrusion that develops along the outside of the big toe. The bone and tissue surrounding the joint (metatarsophalangeal, MTP) become misaligned due to undue pressure on the toes.

Bunions can form if your foot puts too much stress on the MTP joint. According to WebMD, " about 10-25% of people have bunions" and they can happen at any age. People with flat feet and low or fallen arches are more susceptible to developing bunions, but other causes include:

  • Foot injuries
  • Arthritis and inflammatory joint disease
  • Overuse of high heels and narrow, pointed-toe footwear
  • Undue occupational stress on the feet, particularly in teachers, nurses and ballet dancers

While ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, and bunion pads can help alleviate pain, once a bunion forms, only surgery will truly fix the problem. That is why it is important to take care of your feet before bunions form.

Fixing the biomechanical problems that cause bunions can not only halt the growth, but it can also halt the development of other foot conditions that result from bunions including hammer toe, corns and calluses.

To address your biomechanical issues, start by adding insoles with firm arch support to your footwear. Soft, cushy insoles won't provide your feet with proper support to correct your pronation. Make sure you're buying firm insoles that match the contours of your feet.

In addition to using insoles, wearing the right shoes will make a big difference. Choose footwear with roomy toe boxes and avoid narrow shoes or high heels. 

Learn more about bunions.

 

Women's foot issues - corns and calluses

What Are Corns and Calluses?

Corns and calluses are thickened areas of skin that develop on the foot. Caused by friction between your foot and your shoes, calluses form on the skin of the bottom of the foot while corns appear on the top or the side of the toes.

There are three main causes of corns and calluses:

  • Ill-fitting shoes - Tight shoes can cause "hotspots" or specific areas where your foot rubs against your shoes. Narrow shoes and high heels are culprits.
  • Foot deformities like hammer toes - the abnormal bending of the toe joint can create shoe fitting issues.
  • Overpronation- Overpronation causes arches to flatten and elongate. As this happens, the ball of the foot moves back and forth, rubbing on the inside of your shoe. This rubbing often causes calluses.

The easiest ways to prevent corns and calluses include:

  • Wearing shoes that fit properly
  • Adding firm arch support insoles that limit pronation and promote proper alignment to your footwear
  • Reducing high heel wear time

Read more about corns and calluses.

What Causes Hammer Toes?

Hammer toe is a painful condition in which your toe bends abnormally at the first joint, looking like an upside-down V. Most often occurring in your second to fifth toes, typically women suffer from hammer toe more often than men.

High heels and shoes with tight toe boxes are causes of hammer toe. Poor shoe choice is aggravated by underlying biomechanical irregularities including:

  • Flat feet - As your arch over flattens, your toes are forced to stabilize the foot. This causes increased pressure on your toe joints.

  • High arches – People with high arches often have imbalances in the different tendons in the toes (extensor and flexor), which can result in hammer toes.

  • Bunions – Bunions will push your big toe towards the smaller ones. This can put undue stress on the smaller toe joints.

You can help to prevent hammer toes by wearing shoes that fit correctly and have wide toe boxes, but you also have to correct the underlying biomechanical issues that cause them. Firm, flexible inserts that match the contour of your arches will stabilize your feet and slow or prevent hammer toes.

Find out more about hammer toes.

What Is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s Neuroma is an inflamed or enlarged nerve in the metatarsals (toes). More common among women due to overuse of high heels and tight shoes, symptoms include pain, tingling, and swelling in the toes and ball of the foot. It can often feel like you have a pebble stuck in your shoe.

The main causes of Morton's Neuroma include:

  • Biomechanical problems like high arches and flat feet. Overpronation can also cause the metatarsals to rotate excessively, pinching the nerves.
  • Trauma to the toe nerves.
  • Improper footwear. Shoes that are too tight will squeeze the toes together. High heels over two inches will increase the pressure on the front of the foot.
  • Repeated stress on the feet.

Choosing the proper footwear can help prevent you from developing Morton's Neuroma. Look for shoes with wide toe boxes, thick soles, and heels less than two inches.

Most foot specialists will recommend insoles to both treat and prevent Morton's Neuroma. Firm insoles that correct overpronation, combined with metatarsal pads that take pressure of your metatarsal bones will alleviate the pain Morton's Neuroma can cause.

Get the details on Morton's Neuroma.

What Causes Runner's Knee?

Runner’s knee, also know as(Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or PFPS, is a common injury among runners, particularly recreational runners. Runner's knee occurs when the knee becomes irritated due to the patella (kneecap) rubbing the femur (thighbone).

While overtraining or a sudden increase in training can set off PFPS, an imbalance is the underlying cause of the condition. There are two types of imbalance:

  • Muscle imbalance – Weak quadriceps (thigh muscles) and inflexible hamstrings can cause runner’s knee. Poorly conditioned thigh muscles don’t adequately support the patella, causing misalignment while tight hamstrings put extra pressure on the knee.
  • Functional imbalance – Biomechanical problems can lead to runner’s knee. The patella can be irregularly shaped and worn cartilage can result in reduced shock absorption. Biomechanical issues in the feet can also lead to PFPS.

Symptoms of runners knee include pain in the front of the knee, a grinding or crunching sensation in the knee, swelling on the front of the knee, worsening pain when you're moving, and stiffness after rest.

Women are twice as likely to develop runner’s knee than men due to having wider hips that cause the thighbones to meet the knee at a greater angle than men's, putting the kneecap under more stress. Insoles can help by addressing the biomechanical problems that can cause runner’s knee.

Learn more about Runner's Knee.

 

women's foot issues - stress fractures

 

What Causes Stress Fractures?

Before you developed a stress fracture, you had a stress reaction. That's when your bone has weakened significantly but not yet cracked. A stress fracture occurs when the bone develops fissures in the weak areas. Both of these conditions are caused by repetitive actions that put force on the bone.

Stress fractures are common and can occur in the feet, lower legs and upper legs. While both men and women can develop stress fractures, female athletes develop these injuries at a higher rate than male athletes.

Older women who have gone through menopause are at risk for stress fractures due to reduced estrogen. Estrogen helps your bones process the calcium they need for optimal growth, and the reduced presence of this hormone in the body can lead to osteoporosis. 

There are several causes of lower-extremity stress fractures:

  • Overtraining or a sudden increase in training
  • Biomechanical problems like high and low arches and flat feet
  • Impact activities like running and jumping
  • Changes in running surfaces, for example, changing from dirt to cement

You can reduce your risk of stress fractures by eating healthy, training properly, and wearing the right footwear. Adding arch support insoles that correct biomechanical issues that lead to improper stride, uneven impact absorption, and most importantly, stress fractures, can help you prevent this common injury.

Learn more about stress fractures.

Should I Wear High Heels?

Many women struggle to find the balance between comfort and style in their shoe choices. While high heels can take a look from frumpy to fashionable, wearing them frequently can result in a number of conditions that cause foot pain.

These include:

There are ways to wear high heels and avoid the most common foot pain conditions:

  • Wear heels in moderation.Use sneakers during your commute. Don't wear heels on your days off. Alternate heels with flats.
  • Choose comfortable heels. Wear 2-inch heels or lower. Find heels with wide toe boxes. Re-sole the heels with thicker rubber to provide extra comfort and reduce slippage.
  • Avoid certain styles. Very high heels (stilettos) can cause pain in the ball of the foot. Pointy-toed heels will cramp the toes.

Ballet flats are also an option for women's professional wardrobe. Flats distribute weight more evenly over the entire foot, but their lack of support can lead to other problems, including overpronation.

The best way to provide extra structure in ballet flats to help prevent foot issues is by using arch support insoles made for shoes without removable inserts.  

Check out these comfortable shoes for women.

How Do Your Feet Change During Pregnancy?

Like the rest of your body, your feet will change during pregnancy. Most often, your arches will flatten and your shoe size will increase, particularly during your first pregnancy. You may also find your shoe width increases and your feet swell.

There are 2 main reasons women's feet change during pregnancy:

  • Hormones. The pregnancy hormones estrogen and relaxin loosen the ligaments in the foot, causing the arches to flatten and shoe size to increase.
  • Weight. The additional weight you're carrying during your pregnancy puts pressure on the loosening joints and ligaments in your feet, causing further flattening and swelling. 

While foot issues may be inevitable during pregnancy, there are specific ways pregnant women can take care of their feet:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Work with a physician or midwife to follow a healthy lifestyle while pregnant.
  • Choose the right shoes.Avoid high heels. Pick shoes that provide both comfort and support.
  • Take care of your feet. Rest with your feet elevated on a pillow. Ice your feet. Perform foot exercises to increase circulation.
  • Wear insoles with arch support. Firm arch support will support your arches and and address any biomechanical issues you're having as your center of balance changes. 

    Find out more about how your feet change during pregnancy.

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    Mark Paigen
    Mark Paigen

    Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.


    Tread Labs Million Mile Guarantee

    Tread Labs Million Mile Guarantee

    Tread Labs unique 2-part insole system is designed for the long haul. The molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever. The interchangeable top covers are easy to replace and won't break the bank.  

    Our molded arch supports are built to last a million miles. If they ever break or lose their shape, contact us and we'll send you a new pair. No questions asked.

    With normal usage, Tread Labs replaceable top covers will last a year. If you're a thru-hiker or ultramarathoner, expect a shorter lifespan. You can replace your top covers whenever you need by ordering a new pair.

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    Is Your Foot Pain A Heel Spur Or Plantar Fasciitis?

    When you hop out of bed in the morning and feel pain at the bottom of your heel with your first few steps, you want to know what could be causing it. Even if it ends up going away later in the day, it's still bothersome. You might think it's plantar fasciitis based on your symptoms, but not so fast...could it be a heel spur?

    THE BASICS ---

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    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

    Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are two terms frequently used when discussing certain types of heel pain. And while they're actually very different issues, they can be addressed with the same types of treatment. 

    What's The Difference Between Heel Spur Pain And Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

    There are some misconceptions about how plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are connected. People tend to think that heel spurs are a common cause of heel pain, however that's not the case.

    While heel spurs might be associated with pain, they are usually not the reason it occurs, as the Cleveland Clinic points out. Instead, the majority of the time when heel pain strikes, plantar fasciitis is the responsible party.

    What is a Heel Spur?

    A heel spur, as explained by ScienceDirectis a type of bone spur, or calcium deposit, that develops toward the back of the calcaneus, or heel bone, where the plantar fascia inserts. These small, jagged bumps of bone usually develop in response to lots of trauma—or damage—to the heel.

    This means that in most cases, heel spurs actually form as a result of plantar fasciitis. If the plantar fascia continues to be damaged for a long period of time, the body will eventually create a heel spur to provide additional support for the heel.

    Heel spurs are associated with a similar stabbing type of sensation in the heel that is usually worse in the morning and comes and goes throughout the day. But the major difference here is that the heel spur itself is rarely the actual cause of this pain.

    In fact, about 10% of the population has heel spurs whether they know it or not, but only 5% of those with spurs will have heel pain. The true reason for pain in most of these individuals, as you might have guessed, is plantar fasciitis.

    What is Plantar Fasciitis?

    According to Podiatry Today, "plantar fasciitis is at epidemic levels with suggestions that one in six Americans may have the condition." As it has become so common, it's important to understand exactly what plantar fasciitis is.

    The plantar fascia is a thick, connective band of soft tissue that stretches from the back of your heel to the base of your toes. As a ligament, it connects the bones in these two areas and it’s designed to be a shock absorber for the high amount of stress you put on your feet.

    The plantar fascia is strong and can withstand a great deal of force, but too much pressure can damage or tear it. The body responds to this damage by becoming inflamed, and inflammation of the plantar fascia is called plantar fasciitis.

    Plantar fasciitis is usually described as a stabbing pain under the arch and/or on the bottom of the foot near the heel. This pain tends to be worse in the morning and after long periods of standing, exercise, or rest. There may also be some redness and swelling in the area.

    Sometimes plantar fasciitis can be confused with Achilles tendinitis. As the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons explains, "Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that occurs when the large tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg becomes irritated and inflamed.

    The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It attaches the calf muscles to the back of the heel and allows you to stand on your toes when walking, running, or jumping. When you train too hard or intensely without enough rest, Achilles tendinitis can occur, causing pain at the back of the heel or directly above it.

    How Heel Spurs And Plantar Fasciitis Are Similar 

    Here is one of the easiest ways to remember how heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are different. Many people have heel spurs without plantar fasciitis or heel pain, but it’s rare to find someone with plantar fasciitis who does not have a heel spur.

    According to one study, approximately 50% of patients with plantar fasciitis also have bone spurs. Since about 1 in 10 people would show a heel spur on an X-ray of their foot, they are only considered an incidental—or insignificant—finding unless there is also foot pain.

    When a heel spur forms, it is usually not responsible for causing any foot pain on its own. Instead, the pain is due to the foot condition that caused the spur. So, if you have a heel spur and notice pain at the back of the heel, you probably have Achilles tendinitis.

    If the pain is on the bottom of the heel, plantar fasciitis is most likely the reason. Many people have heel spurs without any symptoms at all, and experts are still trying to figure out exactly how spurs relate to heel pain.

    Since both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs result from a similar process, the risk factors associated with them are shared in common. The following factors increase the chances of developing both conditions:

    It’s also important to point out that although the symptoms of plantar fasciitis and a heel spur seem similar, there is one way to help tell them apart. Plantar fasciitis symptoms may be felt in the arch as well as the heel, some patients have it for a while before they notice the stabbing heel pain. In rare cases where heel spurs are responsible, the jabbing pain will be centered in the heel.

    Heel Spur vs Plantar Fasciitis

    How Do You Treat Heel Spurs And Plantar Fasciitis?

    If you’re experiencing heel pain, your doctor will examine your foot and may recommend an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. Although plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, it’s important to rule out other causes like Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, a broken heel, or tarsal tunnel syndrome.

    With a diagnosis of either plantar fasciitis or a heel spur, nonsurgical treatments are always recommended first and are usually successful. These include rest and ice, a change in footwear, heel cups, insoles, night splints, physical therapy and cortisone injections:

    For people whose pain doesn’t improve after 6-12 months of trying these nonsurgical treatments, surgery is an option. 

    Healing From Plantar Fasciitis And Heel Spurs

    When it comes to heel spur vs plantar fasciitis conditions, it's important to remember that the latter often leads to the former. The good news is that more than 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve in less than 10 months after following these simple nonsurgical treatments.

    On the other hand, allowing the pain to persist or trying to push through it will only make matters worse and can lead to bigger foot problems.

    With so many different options for treatment, it can be hard to figure out where to start. But, taking charge of your heel pain by finding one that works for you can have you experiencing more mobility and freedom as your heel pain gradually fades away.

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    Do You Need Prescription Custom Orthotics?

    If you're experiencing foot pain, you might be wondering if you need to invest in a pair of custom orthotics. You may have even already seen a podiatrist who has recommended you be fitted for them. But the expensive of custom made orthotics can be a hurdle for lots of people, especially since insurance may not cover them. That might leave you asking yourself, "Do I really need custom orthotics?" Let's find out.

    THE BASICS---

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     WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW---

    Orthotic inserts are foot supports worn inside the shoe that provide more comfort and stability than the factory inserts that come in footwear. Scientific research has shown again and again that both over-the-counter and custom molded orthotics, or orthopedic insoles, are effective in treating lower-extremity injuries and pain. Insoles can also help correct biomechanical irregularities in your feet, and solve many foot issues like fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.

    Sports podiatrist and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) Richard Braver considers orthotics a “cure-all” for many lower-body injuries and pain. According to Braver, “orthotics can prevent and cure a problem by reducing and eliminating the stress that caused it.” Clearly, orthotics are important additions to our shoes. But what are custom orthotics?

    What's The Difference Between Custom Orthotics And Over-The-Counter Insoles?

    There are two types of orthotics: over-the-counter and custom-made orthopedic insoles (also called custom molded orthotics).

    As the American Podiatric Medical Association explains, custom molded orthotics are insoles that have been prescribed by a doctor, often a podiatrist, sports medicine physician, or orthopedic surgeon after conducting a thorough evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs. They are built for your specific foot and gait, and accommodate your individual foot structure.

    Over-the-counter inserts encompass a variety of different foot products including arch supports, insoles, heel liners, and foot cushions. Not all prefabricated insoles are made alike, however, especially when it comes to the level of support they offer.

    While scientific research has proven that that insoles help treat and prevent leg, foot and lower-extremity injuries, studies have not found a significant difference between prefabricated versus custom orthotics.

    In fact, Dr. Braver believes that for most people, orthopedic or custom-made orthotics should be a last option. Think of it this way. If you have a headache, you rest, take an anti-inflammatory, and drink water. You probably don’t immediately rush off to get an MRI. It’s the same with orthotics. With prices from $300 to $500, prescription insoles are not necessarily the best option for everyone.

    So who may be a good candidate for custom orthotics?

    People Who May Need Custom Orthopedic Insoles

    1. Diabetics - Diabetes and poor circulation increase the risk of foot ulcers and infections. You might want to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes.
    2. High-performance athletes - Running an ultra-marathon is different than a completing a 5K. If you engage in sustained, high-level activities (particularly weight-bearing ones like running), you could benefit from an orthopedic insole.
    3. People with serious biomechanical issues and recurring injuries that aren’t addressed with over-the-counter versions - If you've tried many over-the-counter options and still suffer from plantar fasciitis, pain or other issues, prescription orthotics may be a good option. However, you'll need to first see a podiatrist or physical therapist to rule out other causes of foot pain such as tight muscles and improper footwear. 

    If you don't fall into these three categories, the best over-the-counter insoles might be a better option.

    The Types Of Custom Orthotics

    1. Functional orthotics - As William R. Olson, DPM, and former President of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) writes, “The purpose of the functional orthotic is to accurately and precisely position the foot throughout the gait cycle so as to promote proper function.” These orthotics control abnormal motion. They also treat foot pain and injuries such as tendinitis and shin splints. Functional orthotics are often crafted of semi-rigid materials like plastic and graphite.
    2. Accommodative orthotics - Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide cushion and support. They are often custom-fitted for people suffering from diabetic foot ulcers or painful calluses on the bottom of their feet.

    Getting Fitted for Custom Molded Insoles

    Podiatrist and range of motion test for fitting orthopedic insoles

    If you’ve decided you might be a good candidate for custom-molded insoles, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Here is what you can expect when getting fitted for your orthotics.

    1. A Range of Motion Test - Your podiatrist will measure the motion of all your lower-extremity joints (such as your hips, knees, and ankles) in order to identify any irregularities in joint motion like excessive flexibility or extreme limitation. Your doctor will also establish the weightbearing and non-weightbearing functional positions of these joints by testing them while you're standing and walking on them, and when you are lying down.
    2. A Muscle Examination - Your podiatrist well test the lower-extremity muscle groups like the quadriceps and calves to identify any overly weak or tight areas. This will show if your muscles are adding to your injury, symptoms, or biomechanical problems.
    3. A Non-Weightbearing Neutral Position Cast of the Foot - Your podiatrist will cast your foot to provide a model for the orthotic laboratory. As Dr. Olsen says, “The specific method of casting is critical and must be done accurately in order to achieve an accurate impression of the foot in its neutral position.” 
    Because custom orthotics must be based on your foot in it's neutral position, stomp-box moldable orthotics are ineffective in treating biomechanical problems. They take an impression in a weightbearing position, thus incorporating any biomechanical issues into the build of the orthotic.

      Questions Your Podiatrist May Ask

      Your podiatrist should perform a thorough examination that includes all the elements listed above as well ask you questions about your pain and foot problems.

      A good podiatrist will ask you to explain the type, frequency, and duration of all the activities you engage in as well as your overall lifestyle. Are you on your feet all day at work, lifting heavy loads? Your podiatrist should know this. Have a long history of plantar fasciitis or stress fractures? This is important information.

      Your podiatrist should also look at the wear pattern of your shoes to understand your gait mechanics. Podiatrists look for the following patterns:

      A thorough examination is the foundation for effective, reliable custom-made orthopedic insoles.

      Well-made, custom-molded orthotics (a pair of orthotics made for a particular individual) are quite expensive ($300 and up), and there is a small group of people who will benefit from them.

      Custom-molded orthotics are designed to control pronation and increase the comfort and performance of footwear. There are many providers for custom-molded orthotics, and some are better than others. You’ll want to consider a few factors when searching for a provider.

      Finding The Right Custom Molded Orthotics Provider

      A stomp box is used to make custom molded orthotics
      1. Hands-On Evaluation – Great custom-molded orthotics cannot be made without a face-to-face visit. There are a variety of providers who will send out a "Stomp Box," a piece of impression foam in a box. You are instructed to step into the box with each foot and send the resulting impressions off to make your orthotics. Unfortunately, without an experienced provider to position your foot as it makes the impression, your dysfunctional biomechanics may be built into the design of your orthotics.
      2. Type of Provider – A certified Pedorthist (C. Ped) diagnoses foot problems and prescribes orthotics. C. Peds often have the most hands-on experience with orthotics and functional biomechanics. Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in feet. They can diagnose foot problems and prescribe orthotics as well as perform surgery to fix problems.  A chiropractor is involved with the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Some provide custom orthotics.
      3. Years of Experience – Getting custom orthotics right is a challenging mix of art and science. It takes years of experience to learn the subtleties of making custom orthotics that meet both the functional and the comfort needs of the client. Choosing someone with a long history of success will increase the chances that the orthotics will be right – the first time.
      4. Hands-On Fabrication – Some practitioners evaluate a client's needs, then transmit the info to a lab that creates the actual orthotics. While this system can work, having the orthotics made at the place of the diagnoses prevents errors in communication and insures that modifications can be easily made if necessary.

      If you’ve decided that custom orthotics aren’t right for you, or that it makes sense to try over-the-counter insoles first, you’ll find you have a lot of choices.

      How To Choose Over-The-Counter Insoles

      The most important thing to consider is that not all over-the-counter inserts are made alike. Their quality and effectiveness varies greatly. And understanding the difference between inserts and insoles is helpful.

      Think about arch supports, feet, and walking the way you think about eyeglasses, eyes, and seeing. Most people (especially as they get older) benefit from some kind of corrective lenses to improve vision. In the same way, most people benefit from arch supports to optimize their stride.

      Shoe Inserts

      Depending on your eyesight, you might need a specific prescription or a simple pair of generic reading glasses found at the drugstore. Generic reading glasses are similar to shoe inserts that don't have much variety in sizing and fit.

      The basic cushioned inserts you find at the drugstore may be cheap, but they lack any structure and they won't provide the needed support.

      Shoe Insoles

      If you require more than drugstore reading glasses, you will need an eye exam, after which you get a prescription for lenses. The prescription is written in a detailed scale because added precision enables better sight.

      Like with glasses, having precision sizing with insoles enables a higher level of support and better biomechanics. For many people, an eye exam and simple prescription is enough, much like aftermarket insoles with precision sizing works for most people in relation to arch support.

      There are different types of insoles:

      When you’re considering over-the-counter insoles as an alternative to custom orthotics, look for proper fitting medical-grade arch supports that provide comfort as well as support. They should control overpronation, prevent and relieve foot pain, and most importantly, support your active life.

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      Best Supination Insoles For Underpronation Relief

      High arches can be a pain – literally. The shape of your foot affects how much pressure is put on other joints with every step you take. If you're not doing the right things for your high arches, you can find yourself with knee and hip problems. But those are the only issues that affect people with high arches. Another thing to deal with is supination.

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      WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

      Are High Arches The Same As Supination?

      Nope, high arches and supination are not the same thing. High arches are arches that are raised more than the median height. Supination, also known as underpronation, is when the foot doesn’t properly roll inward upon landingThough supination is not the same thing as high arches, it is a condition often caused by them. Not all people with high arches will supinate, but many are at risk. 

      As part of a normal stride, the foot will roll slightly inward after the heel hits the ground (pronation), cushioning the impact and helping you adapt to uneven surfaces. A normal foot pattern rolls inward at around 15% during your stride.

      When you supinate, your foot rolls in under 15%. Most of your body weight lands on the outer edges of each foot. Conversely, overpronation is defined as the inward rolling of the foot over 15%.

      Supination can put too much pressure on your Iliotibial (IT) band. Some people who supinate will experience knee pain or Achilles tendinitis. Underpronation is less common than overpronation, with up to 10% of people in the U.S. supinating. Those with severe supination are prone to inversion ankle sprains, heel spurs and stress fracturesAthletes with high arches should be particularly careful in order to avoid these injuries.

      Can Someone Have Very High Arches And Still Pronate?

      Yes. Though people with high arches often underpronate, that is not always the case. People with high arches can pronate and even overpronate.

      Who Underpronates and Why?

      There are three main characteristics of people who underpronate or supinate.

      1. People who underpronate are often heel strikers – their heel hits the ground first. Then, the foot rolls out, and the force of their body weight is unevenly distributed to the outer edge of the foot
      2. Underpronation is more common in, but not exclusive to people with high arches. High arches are often more rigid and less flexible. When your foot hits the ground, your arches don't sufficiently flex to accommodate dynamic movement. The force of the stride then pushes the weight towards the outside of the foot.
      3. Tight calves and Achilles tendons magnify the movement of supination. The tightness in the back of the heel and up the leg pulls your foot outwards when it lands. If tight calves and Achilles tendons are the cause of your supination, stretching is an easy solution.

      If you're experiencing these symptoms and the associated pain, there is an easy way to get relief. A quality pair of supination insoles can help. They will give you high arches the support they need to prevent supination as you take a step.

      I Have High Arches, How Can I Tell If I Supinate?

      According to Runner’s World, there's an easy, informal test you can do to see if you supinate. Simply take a well-worn pair of sneakers and place them on a flat surface. Look at the shoes from behind. Do they stand straight? Or do they lean to the outer edges? If they lean dramatically to the edges, there is a high chance that you supinate. See a doctor for confirmation.

      Injuries Associated with Supination

      Like any biomechanical irregularity, underpronation can cause specific injuries. Common injuries associated with supination include:

      Neutral Shoes and Shock Absorption

      For people with high arches, shoe shopping can be a real chore. If you underpronate, you need shoes that accommodate your gait. Because body weight is not distributed evenly across the foot, forces of impact remain concentrated on the outside of the shoe.

      When you push off, your smaller toes do most of the work. This is both inefficient and lessens your ability to properly absorb the impact of your stride. Most specialists recommend finding neutral shoes with extra cushion or shock absorption qualities.

      You should look for shoes that also:

      Best Shoes For High Arches And Supination

      There are many brands and styles that work well for people with high arches. To find the best shoes for high arches and supination, you'll want to try on several pairs before you buy. Here are some shoes you can start with:

      New Balance

      New Balance has great running and walking shoes for people with high arches. Many of their styles provide extra cushioning, which is important for shock absorption that high-arched feet typically don’t have on their own. New Balance’s cushion features their "ABZORB" technology, a proprietary blend of rubber and foam materials that is very lightweight and can endure many miles of wear.

      Birkenstock

      Birkenstock is a well-known comfort shoe brand. Their sandals provide arch support with a molded footbed. For many, their signature footbed helps redirect and balance pressure. Make sure to try out the sandals in the store. Birkenstock's firm one-size-fits-all footbed is heaven for some but too uncomfortable for others.

      Chaco

      Developed by the founder of Tread Labs, Chaco has been making sandals with robust arch supports for decades. Originally designed for river guides, Chaco now offers many styles for off the river too. The original Z/series of sandals has very good arch support, however some of the more recent models have less-pronounced support. Very durable, Chaco sandals will last for years. 

      Saucony

      Saucony also makes great running shoes for those with high arches. Like New Balance, they provide amazing comfort and cushioning. Their PWRGRID+ technology claims to provide 20% more cushion without adding bulk or weight. A selection of their shoes are designed for daily use for neutral or supinated feet.

      The Best Insoles For Supination

      Since most shoes do not sufficiently support high arches, they won't correct the underlying cause of your supination. That's where insoles for underpronation come in.

      Once you've found the pair of shoes that works best for you, adding a pair of insoles for high arches will ensure you are supporting your feet properly, which will prevent your foot from rolling out. Insoles can also help reduce underpronation, particularly if it is caused by biomechanics rather than tight calf muscles. 

      When you're selecting a pair of insoles to prevent supination, look for ones that:

      With the proper insoles for supination correction, you can prevent injury and develop a more efficient stride, which makes every step easier.

      Are High Arches Genetic?

      There are many causes of high arches. Some people are born with high arches as in inherited trait while others develop them later in life. Causes of high arches include:

      Do High Arches Change With Age?

      There are a few factors, including age, that can cause fallen arches in people who have very high arches. These include:

      A series of tendons and ligaments that attach leg muscles to the foot create the foot’s arch. When these tendons are injured or otherwise loosened, arches begin to fall.

      This change in foot shape can be painful. Feet will tire easily and put even more stress on knees and ankles. To prevent arches from falling, make sure you wear high arch support insoles and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

      The Bottom Line

      Millions of people in the U.S. have high arches. With proper foot care, the right footwear, and supportive shoe inserts, you can participate in sports and activities pain-free. Listen to your body and be aware of any discomfort or changes so that you can proactively prevent injury.

      FIND YOUR FIT

       

      Questions? Drop us a line at hello@treadlabs.com. We're here to help.

      How To Treat Bursitis Foot Pain

      More common than you might think, bursitis foot pain may affect up to 42% of adults at any one time. If you have it, all you want is relief from the pain it causes, especially during walking or running. Getting relief from bursitis in your foot will have a big impact on your daily activities and quality of life, so don't wait to start treating it.

      THE BASICS ---

      SHOP PACE INSOLES

      WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ---

      What Is A Bursa?

      Your foot is equipped with its own cushioning system to help reduce the impact of walking and running on hard surfaces. Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Tedder, explains, "The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that’s located around joints to help them function. When these are inflamed or irritated, it’s called bursitis, and can decrease the amount of motion in the joint."

      If the bursa in your foot becomes inflamed from overuse or injury, you may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in your heel, arch, or metatarsal area (ball of foot). 

      What Does Foot Bursitis Feel Like?

      Common areas impacted by bursitis

      What Causes Bursitis?

      There are many factors that can contribute to the development of bursitis foot pain, however the most common cause of foot bursitis is the overuse or improper use of your foot’s muscles, bones, and tendons. Other common causes include the use of ill-fitting footwear and other biomechanical issues in your feet.

      Overuse Injuries Can Cause Bursitis In Foot

      Repetitive activities like jumping, dancing, power walking, or running can lead to foot bursitis. This can be especially true if you don’t take the time to stretch and warm-up your body—especially your feet—prior to exercise. Always spend time stretching your body and feet prior to athletic activities to ensure your muscles and tendons are warmed up, with proper blood flow and oxygen.

      If you are not accustomed to strenuous activity, take things slowly when you first begin a new exercise regimen. While you may (and should) be enthusiastic about your healthy new routine, your body needs time to adjust to the new demands. Pacing yourself in the beginning is an important step in becoming fit and avoiding injury.

      Footwear

      Ill-fitting footwear is another culprit when it comes to bursitis. If you regularly run, jump, dance, or spend many hours at a time on your feet, be sure your footwear has:

      Biomechanical Irregularities In The Foot

      Sometimes, bursitis foot pain can be caused by an existing foot irregularity, like Haglund’s deformity—a bone spur that can develop on the heel. The bursa can become inflamed as it tries to cushion the heel and the spur from impact.

      Other conditions that may cause or contribute to bursitis include problems with thyroid levels, infections, arthritis, or diabetes. These medical conditions can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it is important to see a physician if you have symptoms of bursitis in your foot.

      How is Bursitis of the Foot Diagnosed?

      If you're having foot pain, you'll want to see a medical provider to get properly diagnosed. Because bursitis foot pain is often confused with other foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, a heel spurAchilles tendinopathy, Sever’s Disease, a trapped nerve, Haglunds’ deformity, or a stone bruise, your doctor will need to do a thorough exam.

      According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, you can expect your doctor to ask questions about what type of exercise you do, what type of sports you participate in, and whether your job involves standing and/or repetitive motion.

      To rule out an underlying illness, injury, deformity, or bone fracture, your doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or blood work. If they suspect an infection, they may remove some fluid from the bursa to test it for gout. Depending on the condition your doctor finds, they may refer you to a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or podiatrist.

      How Do You Treat Foot Bursitis?

      The good news about foot bursitis is that it can be easily managed with proper and prompt attention. A few common bursitis foot treatment options include rest, ice, elevation, stretching, a change in shoes, and adding insoles to your footwear.

      If you're an athlete suffering from bursitis in your foot, you're not alone. Foot bursitis is especially common among runners. Start by cutting back on your training until the pain goes away. You'll also want to incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine, with particular focus on your Achilles tendon. 

      Can Insoles Help Foot Bursitis?

      Because footwear manufacturers design their shoes to fit the widest range of people, the vast majority of shoes have minimal arch support. Footwear makers do this because they expect that people who need additional arch support will add an insole. Insoles with firm arch support can help relieve bursitis foot pain.

      You'll get the most out of your footwear by replacing the factory inserts that come in your shoes with firm, supportive insoles. To get the most out of the arch support insoles you're adding to your shoes, look for ones that:

      Podiatrists recommend firm support to improve alignment, control pronation, and deliver long-term comfort. Insoles are a small investment in good lifelong foot health. Add them to your footwear and reap the benefits.

      FIND YOUR FIT

       

      Questions? Drop us a line at hello@treadlabs.com. We're here to help.

      Fitting Guide

      Order insoles in the same size as the shoes they will go in.

      Choose between low, medium, high and extra high arch heights by comparing your wet footprint to the chart below.

      What Does Your Wet Footprint Look Like? Describe Your Arch Your Best Tread Labs Insole Height
      Flat Foot Footprint My arch is flat when I stand or sit. Low 
      Flat Foot Footprint My arch is flat when I stand but appears when I sit. Medium
      Medium Arch Footprint My arch is close to but doesn't touch the ground. Medium
      High Arch Footprint My arch is high off the ground when I stand. High 
      High Arch Footprint No one has higher arches than me! Extra high 

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